What is a public health funeral?


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When someone dies and there is no one who can take responsibility for arranging their funeral, the local council will arrange a public health funeral. This will be a simple funeral, usually a direct cremation, unless their religious beliefs specify that burial is preferred.

The council will look for a last will and testament to find out if there is an executor or other relative who can take responsibility. The council will only arrange a public health funeral if there is no next of kin who can take care of arrangements.

What is included in a public health funeral?

Public health funerals are simple but respectful. The local council will arrange for a coffin for the person who died, plus a Funeral Director’s services to take them to the crematorium or cemetery. There may be a short committal ceremony.

There will be no other elements to the funeral, such as funeral flowers, obituaries or a wake. You will not be able to choose which Funeral Director you wish to use, or when the funeral should take place. Friends and family members can attend the funeral, but no transport will be provided.

Check with your local council for more information on how they carry out public health funerals.

Who pays for a public health funeral?

Although the local council authority will arrange a public health funeral, they will try to recover the costs from the estate of the person who died. This means that they may claim the costs back from any cash, bank accounts, property or possessions left behind by the person who died.

If there is not enough money in the estate to cover the cost of a public health funeral, the executor or next of kin is liable to pay. If they are not willing to pay for the funeral, they will usually be asked to make a written statement confirming this.

Find out more about help with funeral costs and how to arrange a funeral for a loved one.